On my first visit to Spain, I ran around madly photographing Mediterranean herbs and flowers I’d seen in gardens but not in nature, stunning garden landscapes, and everything washed in that sunlight that has besotted so many artists over the years. What a place! I can’t wait to return to Spain in May next year to lead Australians Studying Abroad’s Gardens in Spanish Culture tour.
This time I can share my passion with enthusiastic tour participants and together we can open garden gates normally shut to the casual visitor. I’m delighted our co-leader will be Anneli Bojstad, author of the beautiful Great Gardens of Spain and an expert on Spanish garden history and design. What a treat for us all!
Every time I visit a garden, town or country, I gather up ideas and inspiration for Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, as well as for talks, blogs and radio chats. Inevitably I return busting with stories and knowledge about plants and gardens.
In this case I’ll be adding art and culture to my swag. There will also be plenty of regional Spanish food and wine to savour along the way, plus the great art of Spain in iconic galleries such as the Museo del Prado in Madrid. In every city we’ll take time to visit the great monuments of the region.
The places we’ll visit on this trip are really amazing. We’ve got the ‘must sees’ like the Alhambra (I could return there every year…) and of course the botanic gardens in Madrid and Malaga.
But I’m most excited about the places slightly off the tourist trail, gardens that are normally closed to the public. We’ll spend time with Anneli’s husband, Eduaro Mencos, the famous Spanish garden designer, and have the privilege of spending a full day exploring their beautifully landscaped farm near Jarandilla de la Vera. We visit Carlos Mayans’ garden in Trujillo (created by his late mother) and the gardens of Marquesa of Casa Valdés, San Segundo and Julia Casaravila Silva (widow of Leandro Silva).
For less formality we’ll also venture into the natural wilderness of Monfragüe National Park, circled by vultures and eagles as we search for exotic wildflowers.
Adventure, culture, gourmet food and gardens – what more could you want? Well, perhaps to overnight at heritage hotels, including paradors in Ronda and Jarandilla de la Vera, and the beautiful Hotel San Juan de los Reyes in Toledo.
And what a time of year to visit – in May. Not only is it the perfect time of year for gardens, travelling and eating, but it coincides with Córdoba’s spectacular Festival de los Patios, with its Islamic-style courtyard displays of potted flowers.
Do join Anneli and me for an unforgettable journey through gardens in Spanish culture.
Find out more about this tour at ASA Gardens in Spanish Culture with Professor Tim Entwisle